Understanding the link between high levels of cholesterol and type 2 diabetes

Scientists have established that accumulation of fats in the liver can lead to the development of pre-diabetes, however less is known about the role of cholesterol in this context. New data suggests a link between cholesterol and glucose in the liver. Unfortunately scientists don’t yet understand how they link together.

Dr Anna Calkin, from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, is using a Diabetes Australia Research Program grant to tackle this question.

“We know that fat in the liver plays an important role in the way the liver handles glucose. This can contribute to the development of pre-diabetes,” Dr Calkin said.

“But we don’t fully understand the role of cholesterol in this process. We have exciting new data to linking the way the liver handles cholesterol and the way it responds to glucose”.

“We want to understand why that happens and, importantly, if we can reduce cholesterol levels does that then improve the liver’s ability to regulate glucose levels, and ultimately protect against the development of pre-diabetes”.

“One in three Australians have high cholesterol levels, so if we can understand the link between high cholesterol and pre-diabetes then we may be able to develop new therapies that will help people reduce their risk.”